Graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is one of the most common and fatal complications that follows allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Donor origin T cells are responsible for the initiation of GVHD. In this report, we demonstrate that conditioning regimens for BMT resulted in elevated serum levels of interleukin-15 (IL-15), which reached maximum levels within 15 days and returned to basal levels within 25 days after allogeneic BMT, in all patients examined. Thereafter, circulating IL-15 was detected only in patients with grade III or IV acute GVHD with gut involvement. In contrast, IL-2 was not detected at any time in these patients. Since IL-15 is able to activate antigen-stimulated T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, IL-15 may play an important role in the development of severe forms of acute GVHD.
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